Streaky softball team poised for postseason berth
The softball team has been streaky of late and the young Duhawks continue to search for solid footing in Iowa Conference play, but they still are poised to earn a berth in postseason play with a 22-12 overall record.
It has been a bit of a roller coaster ride in April. After splitting a doubleheader against Buena Vista on April 1, the Duhawks went on a six-game winning streak that included sweeps of University of Dubuque and Grinnell. During this streak, the offense began to click and averaged about seven runs per game.
Wartburg then severed the winning streak on April 8, and the Loras bats have gone practically silent ever since. The Duhawks have dropped six of their past eight games and were shut out in back-to-back games against Central, the No. 12-ranked team in the nation.
Loras hosted a doubleheader against Central at Faber-Clark Field on Saturday.
The Dutch put their ace, Karly Olson, on the mound in Game 1, and she did not disappoint. The senior frustrated the Duhawks all game, pitching a complete game two-hit shutout. She added five strikeouts and walked no one during her dominant outing.
As for her offensive help, pinch-hitter Amanda Sigulas broke the game open with a three-run double to put the Dutch up for good.
On the Duhawks side, sophomore Megan Larson broke up Olson’s perfect game with a double in the fourth. This turned out to be the only extra-base hit for the Duhawks in the game.
Loras looked to bounce back in Game 2, but it was easier said than done.
In the second game, the Duhawks again were stymied by Olson and fellow pitcher Mariah Fritz. After going the distance in the first game, Olson pitched 2.2 innings of perfect ball, striking out three more Duhawks.
Loras had its own formidable pitcher on the bump, sophomore Bayley Monroe, who opened the game by retiring the first six Dutch batters retired. Unfortunately, Monroe ran into trouble in the third and could not catch a break. A solo blast by Central’s Abbie Voas in the fifth inning was the exclamation point, as the Dutch took Game 2, 5-0.
Despite this recent rough stretch, the Duhawks find themselves in a somewhat unfamiliar position. They are on track to reach the postseason for the first time since 2011.
With such a young roster, Coach Ashley Winter and the Duhawks have a good chance for sustained success.
As they have all season, sophomores Megan Larson and Ashley Lentine have continued to tear the cover off the ball. Larson leads the team in batting average (.439), hits (50), and is tied with Lentine for the most home runs (6).
First-year Emily Reilly and sophomore Bayley Monroe have been spectacular on the mound, even against tough competition within the Iowa Conference.
On Tuesday, the Duhawks split a doubleheader against Coe.
The Duhawks finish up their regular season on Saturday in Lincoln, NE, against the Nebraska-Wesleyan Prairie Wolves. This is the first time the two sides will be meeting as conference foes.
The Prairie Wolves are 18-16 overall (3-9 in Iowa Conference) and are led by junior outfielder Maddy Ethen on offense (.379 average, 37 hits, and 16 runs-batted-in). Game 1 is set for a 1 p.m. first pitch.